“The Myth of Redemptive Violence is the story of the victory of order over chaos by means of violence.” It was through my reading of Christ’s teachings to “Love your enemies” and the idea of overcoming evil with good, that I began to realize that there must be another road to victory than violence. Quite simply, I found I could not support a culture of war and violence and still claim to follow Christ’s teachings, I could not rationalize it.
After coming to that conclusion I picked up Walter Wink’s book, The Powers That Be, and my eyes were opened to the myth that our society and myself have been indoctrinated with for centuries. I’ve heard the word’s of others too who have walked this path in an attempt to follow Christ.
Derek Webb sings, in My Enemies are Men Like Me,
peace by way of war
is like purity by way of fornication
it’s like telling someone murder is wrong
and then showing them by way of execution
Dr. King said,
Nonviolence is the answer to the crucial political and moral questions of our time — the need for mankind to overcome oppression and violence without resorting to violence and oppression. Civilization and violence are antithetical concepts… Sooner or later all the people of the world will have to discover a way to live together in peace, and thereby transform this pending cosmic elegy into a creative psalm of brotherhood. If this is to be achieved, man must evolve for all human conflict a method which rejects revenge, aggression and retaliation. The foundation of such a method is love.
You should really take the time to read the short article about The Myth of Redemptive Violence. It describes the Babylonian Creation Myth and how it’s violence-centric story is perpetuated today. I’m not just talking about war here, I’m speaking of primarily the media that we expose ourselves to. Think Braveheart and Gladiator, Batman, Lone Ranger, Road Runner and many others:
The psychodynamics’ of the TV cartoon or comic book are marvelously simple: children identify with the good guy so that they can think of themselves as good. This enables them to project out onto the bad guy their repressed anger, violence, rebelliousness, or lust, and then vicariously to enjoy their own evil by watching the bad guy initially prevail. This segment of the show–the “Tammuz” element, where the hero suffers–actually consumes all but the closing minutes, allowing ample time for indulging the violent side of self. When the good guy finally wins, viewers are then able to reassert control over their own inner tendencies, repress them, and reestablish a sense of goodness without coming to any insight about their own inner evil. The villain’s punishment provides catharsis; one forswears the villain’s ways and heaps condemnation on him in a guilt-free orgy of aggression. Salvation is found through identification with the hero…
As, I think about entering parenthood, I’m struck by the fact that though I have continually acknowledged to myself and others that this myth is a lie and it is dangerous to our culture, I have still chosen to expose myself to plenty of movies that carry this theme. I’ve decided both in preparation, and probably for personal well being, that I’m going to stop watching movies that carry a redemptive violence theme (for at least a year). This won’t be a hard and fast line, but one I want to consider for the well being of my family. Which means Die Hard, Rocky, and Spider Man will be off my movie viewing list for the year.